Coaching in the Nonprofit Sector



A Coaching Tip for the Nonprofit Sector

Written by Karen Ramsey, ACC, SPHR


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Coaching is a very valuable leadership development tool and numerous studies have quantified the value.Coaching is now commonplace in the corporate world, but unfortunately, it is a woefully underutilized tool in the nonprofit sector.

According to a survey conducted by CompassPoint and the Meyer Foundation in 2011, 82 percent of nonprofit executives who received coaching as part of their development activities rated it as effective or very effective. Yet, at the same time, the study also reported that only 10 percent of nonprofit executives had the opportunity to experience coaching.1

As the executive director of a nonprofit organization myself, I have a hypothesis regarding why so few nonprofit sector leaders have engaged a coach. I believe it is because these caring, hard-working, responsible people are reluctant to invest their organizations’ limited resources into their own development: somehow the culture of the sector makes it feel like an inappropriate use of funds to build leadership capacity.

And, I believe in some cases, even if the leader knows coaching is a worthwhile investment and it will help the entire organization better serve its mission, the board of directors doesn’t perceive the value. This is a hard pill to swallow considering most board members work in the private sector and they have access to regular training and development opportunities.

There is no doubt that leaders benefit immensely when they receive professional coaching.  Data from the nonprofit sector supports it and my own experience verifies it.  In my view, the hurdle nonprofit executives must overcome to partake in this proven development tool is two-fold:

  1. They must overcome the current culture within the sector that says investing in leadership development is frivolous;
  2. They must decide they are worthy of being developed as leaders and by doing so it enhances the effectiveness and productivity of the entire organization.

Coaching Tip: If you are a leader in the non-profit sector take a moment to reflect on how you, your team members and your organization can reap the benefits of working with a coach.

1Cornelius, Maria, Rick Moyers, and Jeanne Bell, Daring to Lead 2011: A National Study of Executive Director Leadership (San Francisco, CA: CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Meyer Foundation, 2011, pg 12)

About the Author

Karen RamseyKaren Ramsey is President & CEO of Lead for Good, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals become great nonprofit leaders.  A published author and national speaker, her second book will be published in 2013.

Contact Information: 21001 N Tatum Blvd, Suite 78-1630-307 Phoenix, Arizona  85050 602-541-4383